Giannis: “I want to be the best ever who played the game”

2017-06-24T20:21:54+00:00 2017-06-24T22:46:45+00:00.

Aris Barkas

24/Jun/17 20:21

One day before the “Antetokounbros 2017” at Athens’ Olympiac indoor gym, Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo were the guests at Onassis Cultural center.

By Aris Barkas/

In what seemed to be an unexpected partnership, the Onassis Foundation welcomed at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece, two young men who had an unexpected journey.

From the hardships of the immigrants’ life in Athens to the NBA thanks to their abilities. It was a discussion about the difficulties they encountered during their early beginning, the many obstacles, their achievements and the opportunities they had.

And Giannis is just starting. Even if basketball was not the main topic, he talked about his goals and he admitted that he doesn’t want to limit them: “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I have the highest possible goals. I want to be a champion with the Bucks, I want to be the MVP, I want to be part of the best 50 of all time and then I want to be the best ever who played the game”.

The two brothers credited their parents for the values they inherited and they touched subject of them being Greek, born by Nigerian immigrants in Athens. “Nobody can say to me that I am not Greek”, said Giannis. “I didn’t know anything else in my life. I have never been to Nigeria. We are the children of 11 million Greeks”.

Thanasis added: “For 2,5 years I didn’t have a Greek passport. I was illegal. That’s why I couldn’t play in the junior national teams. I played for the first time in the senior national team, when I was an adult. I don’t like hypocrisy. Immigrants should have the right to vote, to be active citizens, like it happened in many other European countries. You shouldn’t have to be THE Antetokounmpo in order to get Greek citizenship. When I was 15 years old, we were beating a team by 100 points and a fan said: “let them score a bucket”. I answered him that they don’t let us score a bucket in real life”.

And of course, being Greeks doesn’t mean that they renounce their African heritage. “I want to visit Africa, I want to help the children there and give them opportunities, like those I got in the States”, said Giannis.